Court of Appeal has this morning delivered its ruling in a 714 Hectares land case involving a city lawyer who had convinced residents in Kabula county that their land had been encroached upon by city businessman Mr Ben Kavuya.
The disputed land measures 714 hectares at Bulimbale and Kasambya Plots 1 & 2 Buddu Block 983 and Plot No. 11 & 14 Kabula Block 64, Masaka District, although the district was later split to create, Lyantonde district.
Information obtained indicates that Mr. Kavuya had previously purchased 714 hectares in 1994 and consequently went ahead to develop it by setting up a commercial farm and an upcountry home.
However, in 2015, it is reported that city lawyer Godfrey Rwalinda Jambo of Jambo & Company Advocates, travelled to Lyantonde and convinced the residents there that their land had been encroached upon by Mr Kavuya.
But when the registered owner, Mr Kavuya, was approached over the matter, he contracted a land valuer to ascertain the land ownership status.
Through his investigations and findings, the land valuer established that the title of ownership for the 714 hectares had overlapped its boundaries by 241 hectares.
Consequently, Mr Kavuya offered the overlapped land to the claimants with the developments he had undertaken on it, at no cost.
It is reported however that Rwalinda rejected the offer and opted to lay claim on the entire 714 hectares, instead of the disputed 241 hectares.
He suggested that Mr Kavuya purchases, afresh, the entire 714 hectares at the prevailing market rates, something that was not only unfair but also inconsiderate of the amicable offer he (Kavuya) had laid on table.
So, in a bid to protect his farm and country home, Mr Kavuya sought the intervention of the courts of justice.
In the case filed in 2015, as HCCS No. 77 of 2015, the High Court in Masaka ruled in favour of the claimants as mobilized by Rwalinda, and ordered the cancellation of Kavuya’s title of ownership.
Later, Mr. Kavuya appealed the High Court decision in the Court of Appeal, vide case reference – Civil Appeal No. 224 of 2021.
However, a panel of three justices from the Court of Appeal; Justices Christopher Madrama, Irene Mulyagonja and Cheborion Barishaki, in a ruling delivered this morning overturned the High Court’s decision.
In the Court of Appeal ruling, the Justices held that:
1. The declarations and orders of the High Court are hereby set aside and substituted with an order that Mr Kavuya retains registration and possession of his title/land to the extent measuring 472.3 Hectares.
2. The Commissioner of Land registration is directed to rectify Mr Kavuya’s title by adjusting it to remove the overlapped 242 Hectares
3. The respondents (represented by the lawyer Rwalinda Jambo Godfrey) to pay the costs of the case in the High Court and Court of Appeal.
“…The appeal succeeds partially on grounds 2, 6, 7, succeeds fully on the 1, 3, 5, 8, 9 & 10 and fails on ground 4. The declarations and orders of the High Court are hereby set aside and substituted with an order that the appellant retains registration and possession of the title to the suit land to the extent only of land measuring approx. 472.272 hectares. The Commissioner Land Registration is directed to rectify the Appellant’s certificates of title by adjusting the acreage of 714 Hectares to 472.272 Hectares. The remaining land after deducting the 472.272 Hectares forms part of the estates of Tisisan Gakwerere, Samuel Rwitirinya, John Ramushasha, Paulo Babonangenda, Gelvas Nyiringabo and Claver Kagenge. The respondents shall pay % of the costs in this court and in the court below. The cross appeal is dismissed with costs to the appellant/ cross respondent,” Justice Chebroni Barishaki’s ruling reads in part.
Commenting after the delivery of the Court of Appeal’s judgment, Mr Kavuya said, “I welcome the decision from the Court of Appeal. What was previously a travesty and miscarriage of justice has been undone.”
He added that; “I have been a resident of Kabula from 1994; that an individual would try to evict my family and I on the basis of frivolity is unconscionable. I look forward to celebrating the holidays, as I have always done the past 27 years, with my fellow Kabula residents.”
It should be noted that Mr. Kavuya has always sought to contribute to the social and economic development of Lyantonde district through encouraging commercial farming and setting up various projects in the area.
As an expression of his generosity, in 2018, while at a function presided over by then Vice President, H.E Edward Kiwanuka Ssekandi, Mr. Kavuya donated money for construction a Health Center III in Lyantondde District, to supplement the government’s efforts to improve health service delivery.
Relatedly, he built and donated another Health Centre III facility in Kebisoni, Rukungiri district in a deliberate effort to bring closer health services to people in Western Uganda.
Mr Kavuya is the Chairman of East African Medical Vitals, Africa’s first surgical and medical gloves manufacturing factory.
East African Medical Vitals is a Ugandan company that manufactures high quality, latex, powder-free medical gloves (examination and surgical), vital medical consumables in health facilities.